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Monday, October 21, 2013
Rookie Report: Taylor, Slay playing better

By Michael Rothstein

Each week, we’ll take a look at how the Detroit Lions’ rookies fared in the prior week’s game along with trends and stats for the rest of the season.

This was a different game for Detroit’s rookie class.

Of the Lions’ more consistent rookies, Sam Martin muffed a critical punt. Ziggy Ansah didn’t record a statistic. Joseph Fauria saw the most snaps of his career, but only caught one of his four targets.

Yet offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle saw the first action of his career. Cornerback Darius Slay played well in relief for the second straight week. And Larry Warford continued to be a consistent mainstay at right guard.

Here’s a longer look at the week that was for Detroit’s rookies:

DE Ziggy Ansah (first round, BYU): Ansah played fewer snaps than he usually does, but much of that comes from Detroit having far fewer defensive snaps than he did a week ago. Ansah had 40 snaps Sunday against Cincinnati for 70 percent of the action on the Lions’ defense, third-most out of defensive linemen behind Ndamukong Suh and Willie Young. He recorded no stats Sunday, but had a strip-sack fumble forced in the first quarter reversed by being offside. It nullified a fumble recovery for a touchdown from Suh.

Ansah’s snap percentages after the opener, when he was recovering from injury:
Arizona -- 70 percent; Washington -- 62 percent; Chicago -- 68 percent; Green Bay -- 72 percent; Cleveland -- 75 percent; Cincinnati – 70 percent.

CB Darius Slay (second round, Mississippi State): Detroit’s third cornerback once again saw a lot of time, although the reasons were a little different this time. Slay initially entered the game after halftime replacing Chris Houston, who was benched. He remained in the game when Rashean Mathis once again hurt his groin. Slay had five tackles Sunday and showed improved play for the second straight week. He played 34 of 57 snaps (60 percent) and 12 special teams snaps. At some point, he may end up pushing for more playing time as a starting cornerback again.

RG Larry Warford (third round, Kentucky): Another week of playing every snap and not getting Matthew Stafford sacked for Warford. He also had to deal with some switching at tackle next to him, as Corey Hilliard was injured and was replaced by undrafted rookie LaAdrian Waddle, making him the more experienced offensive lineman on the right side six-plus games into his career. Have to watch more of the tape but it appeared he did a decent job on Cincinnati defensive tackle Geno Atkins.

DE Devin Taylor (fourth round, South Carolina): Taylor continues to use his limited snaps well. He had two tackles Sunday against Cincinnati along with a tackle for loss and a quarterback hurry. He again played 25 percent of the snaps (14 of 57) just like he did last week against Cleveland. He could be someone who ends up stealing more snaps as the season progresses.

P Sam Martin (fifth round, Appalachian State): One punt destroyed Martin’s outing Sunday. His shanked 28-yard punt late in the fourth quarter helped set up Cincinnati’s game-winning field goal and it also eliminated an otherwise-good performance from him. His other three punts all landed inside the 20-yard line. He had no touchbacks and did kick a 65-yard punt. He had an overall gross average of 43.3 yards and a net average of 41.3 yards.

RB Theo Riddick (sixth round, Notre Dame): Riddick was inactive Sunday as he continues to recover from a concussion.

TE Joseph Fauria (undrafted, UCLA): Fauria saw his most extensive action Sunday against Cincinnati, even if his production dipped from a week ago against Cleveland. Fauria has said all season he wanted to be more than a red zone target and he played 40 percent of Detroit’s plays Sunday, often in two tight end packages with Brandon Pettigrew. He had one catch for 15 yards.

A brief look at Fauria’s tracking:
OT LaAdrian Waddle (undrafted, Texas Tech): With injuries to Jason Fox, Riley Reiff and Corey Hilliard, Waddle became Detroit’s only truly healthy tackle in the second half of Sunday’s game. In the first real game action of his career, Waddle played 43 of 78 snaps (55 percent) and was in on five special teams plays. Depending on the severity of injuries to Reiff and Hilliard and Fox’s recovery, Waddle could be in line for more time this week against Dallas.